Today, Stephenie Meyer’s sixth book-to-film adaptation (and her first non-Twilight fare) hits theaters. The Host, a science-fiction romance set in a post-apocalyptic reality marks Meyer’s first novel catering to an adult audience, and revolves around a world where human bodies become the host for alien residents.
The Daily Beast asked the bestselling author—whose novels have sold more than 220 million copies worldwide—her favorite movie romances of all time, which she narrowed down to 10 filmic couplings. (Hint: She likes Jane Austen, James McAvoy, the Gosling, and the Bourne flicks.)
Here are Meyer’s picks, as told to Anna Klassen:
James McAvoy—as if you need any more descriptor other than just… James McAvoy. If you haven’t seen it, see it. It’s such a lovely fairytale because it feels like a children’s story in some ways. It seems almost illustrated. The visuals are so fairytale-like, heightened and surreal. It’s a lovely, sweet little romance. Sometimes, it bothers me when the problems that come between people are easily surmountable. That’s why I write complicated love stories, where there’s an actual problem—as in you have an alien in your head—it’s not your normal, everyday, “Well, we just don’t get along” story. So in Penelope, there was a true misunderstanding, and there was a reason for it and the logic lined up. It was so sweet and adorable and… James McAvoy.
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Romantic comedies in some ways have stalled out a little bit, where we are seeing the same thing. And it’s rare when you can break through and [they] feel fresh and exciting again. Sometimes the stereotypes get so insulting. They’re there, and we know what they are. (500) Days of Summer is this completely novel way of doing things. Having become more involved with filmmakers, the creation and the way the story is told is probably more fascinating to me than it would have been before. [The director] breaks all these rules and I remember sitting there with my mouth open in the theater when they did the “Expectations vs. Reality” split screen. I was like, “This is genius!” because that is how we see things and how we experience them and no one has ever visualized it like this before. And, of course, Joseph Gordon Levitt. I love Zooey Deschanel too, and they made an adorable couple. It felt very real because it wasn’t all candy canes and bubblegum, it was: “Sometimes they don’t like you as much as you like them.”
Notting Hill (1999)
I’ve always been a sucker for Notting Hill, I don’t know why, and I don’t know why I can’t change the channel when that movie comes on. It’s so cute. It was one of my last favorite romantic comedies for a long time.
Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (and “every Jane Austen adaptation that’s ever been done.”) (1995)
The reason why I love this film so much is because it’s beautiful to look at, and you feel like the whole story is told; very few things are missing. It’s very real and doesn’t feel like it’s jammed together or shortened in any way. And then he added things in, which generally isn’t my favorite thing with a book adaptation—I want to see the book—but you felt like [what he added] were conversations they would have had, and things they would have done. It felt so true to the characters. A lot of that’s on Emma Thompson, who wrote the script, and she was so in tune with at least how I read the novel and what those characters are like in my head. It was perfect.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
I really liked Crazy Stupid Love. I mean … Ryan Gosling. And Emma Stone, who is going to be just … everything. She’s kind of there already, isn’t she? Anything she’s in is exciting because her performances are always really, really good. To be able to do comedy and drama too, that’s a gift.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Drama. I mean how you can you resist those dresses and sayings like, “I’ll die without you!”
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)
You can’t buy this film anywhere. It’s a black and white movie. It’s so old, and it’s been out of print forever. I don’t remember it really well because I was a kid, but I remember it was about this beautiful mermaid, I don’t think she could speak, but this man fishes her out of the ocean and falls in love with her. But he’s married. I’ve been trying to find this film for my mom forever.
One Touch of Venus (1948)
They’ve remade this film a couple of times, and it might be due for a remake again. It’s a fun premise, and each version is different. They were able to redo it as My Fair Lady, which is so beautiful, and then Mannequin. They were able to do it over again in so many fun ways.
Clueless is another Jane Austen adaptation, which a lot of people don’t know. Clueless brought all this new fun to it but the essence of story still works. I actually like it better than Emma; I like this version of the story best. Emma kind of annoys me—she’s such a busybody! She’s kind of a mean girl, so I don’t root for her as much as I do with other heroines. She’s a nicer version in Clueless and she really does mean well.
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
I do love assassin movies. I’m the biggest Bourne fan, and my favorite is The Bourne Legacy. I think I may be the only person that can say that. I think it’s because of the science-fiction edge to that one. And the relationship in the film made more sense—you have two people that, if they don’t stick together, they’re both going to die. That’s a compelling reason to be together, and the other movies didn’t have that, it’s like, “Why are you going off with this man?” Oh right, it’s Matt Damon, I get it. Rachel Weisz was so good, you understood her. They were really good together, but I have a [Jeremy] Renner problem. It’s a cross I bear.